As coffee has skyrocketed in popularity in recent decades, more and more studies have set out to find the exact effects one of the world’s most loved beverages are having on our bodies. As more and more data is analyzed, studies are beginning to show that coffee can be good for your heart health. This message is contrary to many of the scaremongering stories circulated in the media about coffee consumption, and is great news for those of us who love our daily cup of joe!
Coffee is the most popular drink in the world, and one of the highest traded commodities too. The beverage comes in so many different varieties these days, from instant coffee to barista style drinks and even canned, cold coffee drinks. As coffee has evolved to be fun, functional and even fashionable, scientists and researchers have looked further into any links to diseases, whether beneficial or otherwise.
The new revelations come from a study carried out at the University of Colorado in association with the American Heart Foundation. The study has utilized machine learning and AI to analyze huge amounts of data including cardiovascular data collected since the 1940s. These new methods allow analysis that wouldn’t have been realistic just a decade or so ago. “Testing each one using traditional methods would be extremely time consuming, and possibly infeasible” said doctoral student Laura Stevens, discussing the work done on this particular study.
In layman's terms, the machine learning capability looks for any links between diet and cardiovascular health. As you can imagine, there is a huge amount of data here, hence the need for AI’s involvement. One of the biggest correlations seen was with coffee, with data showing a reduced risk of stroke, heart failure and other cardiovascular disease. The study showed that drinking coffee reduced the risks by between 5% and 8%.
Astonishingly, the benefits weren’t linked to just one cup of coffee a day. Those who drink more coffee continued to see the benefits increase. The more coffee consumed, the less the chances of developing heart diseases seem to be. This is at least true up to six cups of coffee per day, as the data for those who drink more than this amount is too limited to make any conclusions. The phrase ‘everything in moderation’ comes to mind, and there are other considerations to drinking large amounts of caffeine, but considering the benefits found, this research could prove to be revolutionary.
Those carrying out the study were able to use this data to run a risk assessment tool, incorporating coffee consumption in the pool of data which is designed to predict an individual’s risk of a stroke or experiencing heart failure in the future. The tool takes into account other factors such as an individual’s cholesterol, blood pressure, age and lifestyle, but when coffee drinking was included, the accuracy of predicting eventual heart failure increased by 4%. Every step towards being able to accurately predict the risk of a disease is, of course, incredibly useful, and very few expected to find coffee to be so influential.
The study from the University of Colorado is not alone in finding benefits to heart health, and is certainly not alone when it comes to finding that coffee can be good for you. One South Korean study, published in Heart medical journal, supports the findings of this study. More specifically, out of 25,000 people studied it was found that those who consumed a moderate amount of coffee (specified as 3-5 cups a day) had a greatly reduced chance of developing blocked arteries. It was shown that drinking coffee reduced the risk of calcium and plaque build ups causing dangerous blockages which could eventually lead to heart disease and worse.
Other studies have shown even more extreme benefits of coffee. One such study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, even showed evidence that those who consume four cups of coffee can reduce their chances of developing cardiovascular diseases by up to 21%. This is a truly astonishing figure, and though further studies are likely to shed more light on the specific benefits of coffee (and which components within coffee cause these benefits), all the signs are that the world’s favorite drink may be doing the world of good for your body.
Other Benefits Of Drinking Coffee
The good news doesn’t end here for coffee lovers, and heart health is just one of a list of health benefits coffee provides (see infographic below). Research has also suggested that coffee can help to improve your mood and reduce tiredness. We know that coffee does this in the short term, and a quick pick me up is the main reason many of us drink coffee. However, some research is starting to show long term benefits too. A study by the Journal of Alzheimer's has shown that adults who drink coffee each day are less likely to be at risk of cognitive impairments. Another study as recently as 2016, published by the journal entitled Nutrition, showed that drinking plenty of coffee could greatly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's, with a 27% impact on the risk being reported.
Another study which took place at Aarhus University Hospital even demonstrated that Cafestrol, which is found in coffee, could stimulate the secretion of insulin and reduce the risks associated with type two diabetes.
How Reliable is This Study?
Some of the studies mentioned rely on self-reported data and don’t take into account variables such as the strength of the coffee brews, but that’s not to say that the data isn’t extremely promising. The University of Colorado study is perhaps the most reliable of all, which is why there is such excitement around the promising cardiovascular benefits. Data collected since 1940 and analyzed in such a high tech way is likely to be scientifically accurate. The study’s findings were confirmed via the use of two large study groups including the Cardiovascular Heart Study.